Colombo, March 3 (NIA) – Tourist arrivals to Sri Lanka recorded a slight decline in February with 197,517 tourists arriving through the month, due to the partial closure of the country’s main international airport.
197,697 tourists had arrived in February 2016, leading to a negative growth for the first time in several months.
In January, a record breaking 219,360 tourists arrived in the country, recording a 12.9 percent growth in comparison to the same period last year.
Officials from the tourism industry said that the decline was a result of the partial closure of the Bandaranaike International Airport which is renovating its runway from January to April.
India recorded the highest number of tourist arrivals in February with 26,320 travelers followed by China which recorded 25,248. The United Kingdom recorded 20,218 tourists followed by Germany which recorded 14,712 and France 13,909.
Tourism Minister John Amaratunga voiced concerns last month that the partial closure of the airport may lead to a drop in tourist arrivals this year and had urged authorities to look into the issue.
However Amaratunga said that the tourism ministry had set a target of 2.5 million tourists in 2017 as the island nation was becoming a popular tourist destination.